Isaiah 11:1 there shall come forth a rod out of the stem of Jesse
Isaiah’s veiled meanings should not be veiled to the latter-day saints. Therefore, we will try to make sense of all of Isaiah’s references in this chapter. The easiest way to look at this chapter is as a description of the missions of two individuals: Christ (v. 2-9) and Joseph Smith (v. 10-16). In this chapter, one of the hardest verses to understand is verse 1.
For a scripture that was specifically interpreted in the Doctrine and Covenants, this is still a confusing verse. The D&C specifically explains who is the “stem of Jesse” and hints at the identity of the “rod” (see DC 113:1-4). But there are still terms in the verse which need explaining. For instance, who is the “branch”? Should we interpret the “branch” to be the same individual as the “rod”? What does the term “his roots” mean? Does the word “his” in verse 1 refer to the same person as the word “him” in verse 2?
For the sake of clarification, let’s make a list of terms and their interpretation:
1. rod = a servant in the hands of Christ, who is partly a descendant of Jesse as well as of Ephraim, or of the house of Joseph, on whom there is laid much power (DC 113:4). But who is this servant?
2. stem of Jesse = Christ (DC 113:2).
3. branch = ?
4. his roots = ?
We can see from this list that all we know for sure from DC 113 is that the “stem of Jesse” is Christ. The next question, then, is “who is the servant spoken of in DC 113:4?” Let’s assume for the time being that the servant is Joseph Smith. This interpretation has been made by others and will be discussed later.
The next problem is identifying the “branch.” Elder Bruce R. McConkie has explained in no uncertain terms that the “branch” refers to Jesus Christ (see quotation given below).
At this point we have explained almost everything, but we still need to know what is meant by the term “his roots.” The tendency to equate this term with the term “stem of Jesse” must be avoided. To understand this term we need to understand one of Isaiah’s literary devices: inverted parallelism. Isaiah uses inverted parallelism in many of his couplets. The fact that the parallelism is inverted is the key to understanding the passage.
Consider the following examples of inverted parallelism:
Isaiah 2:3 “for out of Zion shall go forth the law,
And the word of the Lord from Jerusalem.”
Isaiah 11:13 “Ephraim shall not envy Judah,
And Judah shall not vex Ephraim.”
Isaiah 63:2 “Wherefore art thou red in thine apparel,
And thy garments like him that treadeth in the winefat?”
Isaiah 11:1 “a rod out of the stem of Jesse,
And a branch shall grow out of his roots.”
Note that the concepts in blue match each other, as do the concepts in red. Now we can understand that the term “his” refers to the same person as the “rod” or Joseph Smith. The term “his roots” refers to the lineage of Joseph Smith through Jesse, David’s father (as described in DC 113:6). This explanation is entirely reasonable because Christ (as the Branch) also came through the ancestry of Jesse.
This interpretation equates the “stem of Jesse” and “the Branch” which both refer to Christ. And it demonstrates the common lineage of Joseph Smith and Jesus Christ that was alluded to in DC 113:6. Using this scheme, let’s try to fill in the interpretation for our list of terms.
1. rod = servant in the hands of Christ = Joseph Smith
2. stem of Jesse = Christ
3. branch = Christ
4. his roots = Joseph Smith’s roots (i.e. lineage through Jesse)
This interpretation requires that we accept the revealed truth that Joseph Smith was both a descendant of Joseph of Egypt and a descendant of Jesse (or of the tribe of Judah). Victor Ludlow explains:
“The Book of Mormon contains an important prophecy about a descendant of the ancient Joseph who would also be named Joseph and who would do a great work of salvation among the Israelites to bring them to the knowledge of God’s covenants in the last days. (2 Ne. 3:6-11, 14-15.) Joseph Smith, Jr., is this Joseph. His patriarchal blessing identifies him as the heir to the promises of Ephraim (son of the ancient Joseph), and he is called a pure Ephraimite by Brigham Young. (DS 3:250-54; WTP, pp. 125-27)
“There is not the same recorded evidence of Joseph Smith being a descendant of Jesse through the tribe of Judah. However, there were occasions in earlier Church history when a number of the brethren, including Joseph Smith, claimed that they shared lineage with Jesus in the tribe of Judah. (See Life of Heber C. Kimball , p. 185; JD 4:248; Journal of President Rudger Clawson, pp. 374-75; Ivins Journal, p. 21.)
“In short, Joseph Smith fulfills the requirements as a descendant of Joseph through his son Ephraim. He was also a descendant of Judah through Jesse, and he may have descended through the same lineage as Jesus.” (Isaiah: Prophet, Seer, and Poet, by Victor L. Ludlow, p. 172)
“It was decreed in the counsels of eternity, long before the foundations of the earth were laid, that he, Joseph Smith, should be the man, in the last dispensation of this world, to bring forth the word of God to the people, and receive the fullness of the keys and power of the Priesthood of the Son of God. The Lord had his eyes upon him, and upon his father, and upon his father’s father, and upon their progenitors clear back to Abraham, and from Abraham to the flood, from the flood to Enoch, and from Enoch to Adam. He has watched that family and that blood as it has circulated from its fountain to the birth of that man. He was fore-ordained in eternity to preside over this last dispensation.” (Discourses of Brigham Young, p. 108 as taken from Latter-day Commentary on the Book of Mormon compiled by K. Douglas Bassett, p.94)
Bruce R. McConkie
“Christ is the Son of David, the Seed of David, the inheritor, through Mary his mother, of the blood of the great king. He is also called the Stem of Jesse and the Branch, meaning Branch of David. Messianic prophecies under these headings deal with the power and dominion he shall wield as he sits on David’s throne, and have reference almost exclusively to his second sojourn on planet earth.
“Jesse was the father of David. Isaiah speaks of the Stem of Jesse, whom he also designates as a branch growing out of the root of that ancient worthy. He recites how the Spirit of the Lord shall rest upon him; how he shall be mighty in judgment; how he shall smite the earth and slay the wicked; and how the lamb and the lion shall lie down together in that day—all of which has reference to the Second Coming and the millennial era thereby ushered in. (Isa.11.) As to the identity of the Stem of Jesse, the revealed word says: ‘Verily thus saith the Lord: It is Christ.’ (D&C 113:1-2.) This also means that the Branch is Christ, as we shall now see from other related scriptures.
“By the mouth of Jeremiah, the Lord foretells the ancient scattering and the latter-day gathering of his chosen Israel. After they have been gathered ‘out of all countries wither I have driven them,’ after the kingdom has been restored to Israel as desired by the ancient apostles, in Acts 1:6, then this eventuality, yet future and millennial in nature, shall be fulfilled: ‘Behold, the days come, saith the Lord, that I will raise unto David a righteous Branch, and a King shall reign and prosper, and shall execute judgment and justice in the earth. In his days Judah shall be saved, and Israel shall dwell safely: and this is his name whereby he shall be called, THE LORD OUR RIGHTEOUSNESS.’ (Jer 23:3-6) That is to say, the King who shall reign personally upon the earth during the Millennium shall be the Branch who grew out of the house of David. He shall execute judgment and justice in all the earth because he is the Lord Jehovah, even him whom we call Christ.
“Through Zechariah the Lord spoke similarly: ‘Thus saith the Lord of hosts:..I will bring forth my servant the BRANCH….I will remove the iniquity of the land in one day [meaning that the wicked shall be destroyed and the millennial era of peace and righteousness commence]. In that day, saith the Lord of hosts, shall ye call every man his neighbour under the vine and under the fig tree.’ (Zech. 3:7-10.) Of that glorious millennial day the Lord says also: ‘Behold the man whose name is The BRANCH; and he shall grow up out of his place, and he shall build the temple of the Lord: even he shall build the temple of the Lord; and he shall bear the glory, and shall sit and rule upon his throne.’ (Zech. 6:12-13.)
“That the branch of David is Christ is perfectly clear. (The Promised Messiah, pp. 192-194)
Isaiah 11:2 the Spirit of the Lord shall rest upon him
The antecedent of “him” is Christ. This is apparent from the context of the next three verses and is also revealed in DC 113:1-2. This passage is similar to another Messianic passage of Isaiah, ‘The Spirit of the Lord God is upon me’ (Isa 61:1).
As with other Messianic passages, verses 2-5 do not find their complete fulfillment until the Second Coming and the Millennium, for that is when He will come to destroy the wicked and establish His righteousness.
Isaiah 11:4 with the breath of his lips shall he slay the wicked
The word of the Lord is likened to a two edged sword. When the Lord comes again to slay the wicked he will do it with the spoken word. He will command the elements and the angels to destroy the wicked and His word will be obeyed. Therefore, it is literally ‘the breath of his lips’ which will slay the wicked at His Coming. ‘And out of his mouth goeth a sharp sword, that with it he should smite the nations: and he shall rule them with a rod of iron: and he treadeth the winepress of the fierceness and wrath of Almighty God’ (Rev 19:15). This harsh judgment upon the wicked is contrasted to the loving care He will give to the righteous in that day, ‘with righteousness shall he judge the poor, and reprove with equity for the meek of the earth.’
Isaiah 11:6 The wolf also shall dwell with the lamb
“When these days come, every thing will be in its place. The beasts of the field, and the fowls of the air, instead of feeding upon flesh, will feed upon the herb and the grain, as was given them in the beginning. Then man will not shed the blood of his fellow man, nor beast the blood of its fellow beast, nor fowl the blood of its fellow fowl; but the Spirit of the Lord will be poured out upon all flesh, the curse be taken from off the earth, when it will become an inheritance for the poor and the meek, when their (sic) will be peace thereon and good will towards man.” (The Evening and Morning Star, vol. 2, no. 13, June 1833, p. 102)
Orson F. Whitney
“Prophets have predicted and poets have sung, all down the ages, of a time to come when the earth would rest; when man would cease his inhumanity to man, when they would beat their swords into plowshares and their spears into pruning hooks; when nation would not rise against nation, neither would they learn war any more; when the animal kingdom would subsist solely upon the vegetable kingdom, when the lion would eat straw like the ox, the lion and the lamb lie down together and a little child lead them; when peace would spread her white wings over this planet and grim-visaged war, smoothing his wrinkled front, should sit at her feet and learn wisdom for a thousand years.” (Collected discourses 1868-1898, ed. by B.H. Stuy, vol. 4, Orson F. Whitney, Aug. 12 1894)
“In pitching my tent we found three massasaguas, or prairie rattlesnakes, which the brethren were about to kill, but I said, ‘Let them alone—don't hurt them! How will the serpent ever lose his venom, while the servants of God possess the same disposition, and continue to make war upon it? Men must become harmless, before the brute creation; and when men lose their vicious dispositions and cease to destroy the animal race, the lion and the lamb can dwell together, and the suckling child can play with the serpent in safety.’ The brethren took the serpents carefully on sticks and carried them across the creek. I exhorted the brethren not to kill a serpent, bird or an animal of any kind during my journey unless it became necessary in order to preserve ourselves from hunger.” (History of the Church, vol. 2, pp. 71-2)
“In Paradise, as everybody knows, all creatures lived together in peace. So too, in Zion when it is restored to the earth, the lion shall lie down with the lamb. God's other creatures are an important part of the picture of heaven. A marvelous statement by Joseph Smith on this subject gives us a flash of insight into an amazing future: ‘John learned that God glorified Himself by saving all that His hands had made, whether beasts, fowls, fishes or men; and He will glorify Himself with them.’ Brigham Young said: ‘The millennium consists in this, every heart in the Church and kingdom of God being united in one. . . . All things else will be as they are now, we shall eat, drink, and wear clothing. Let the people be holy . . . and filled with the Spirit of God, and every animal and creeping thing will be filled with peace; the soil of the earth will bring forth in its strength, and the fruits thereof will be meat for man.’” (Approaching Zion, p. 13)
Isaiah 11:8 the sucking child shall play on the hole of the asp
This verse uses some unfamiliar terms. The words, “asp” and “cockatrice”, refer to poisonous snakes. Nothing could be more terrifying for a parent than to find their child playing around the den of poisonous serpents. In the Millennium, it won’t matter for the sting of the serpent is gone. When Satan is bound for 1000 years, his earthly symbol, the serpent, will no longer strike. For ‘they shall not hurt nor destroy in all my holy mountain’ (v. 9).
The petting zoo in the Millennium will be a remarkable place to visit.There will be wolves, leopards, lions, bears, and cobras for the toddlers to pet! What might be a horrifying thought to us today, will be commonplace.
Isaiah 11:9 the earth shall be full of the knowledge of the Lord, as the waters cover the sea
During the Millennial reign of Jesus Christ, missionary work will continue to spread the gospel. The message will reach to many more than it had prior to the Second Coming, ‘for every ear shall hear it, and every knee shall bow, and every tongue shall confess’ (DC 88:104). The Lord will also fill the world with knowledge long since hidden:
‘Yea, verily I say unto you, in that day when the Lord shall come, he shall reveal all things—
Things which have passed, and hidden things which no man knew, things of the earth, by which it was made, and the purpose and the end thereof—
Things most precious, things that are above, and things that are beneath, things that are in the earth, and upon the earth, and in heaven’ (DC 101:32-34).
Not only will the knowledge of the gospel be spread during the Millennium, but the number of people with a personal knowledge of their Lord and Savior, Jesus Christ, will increase. In other words, those who had exhibited great faith in their Lord but were not privileged to see His face in mortality will receive that privilege during the Millennium. Therefore, their faith will be dormant in that thing (Alma 32:34) for it will be replaced with the ‘knowledge of the Lord’ (Ether 3:19).
Joseph Fielding Smith
“The gospel will be taught far more intensely and with greater power during the millennium until all the inhabitants of the earth shall embrace it. Satan shall be bound so that he cannot tempt any man. Should any man refuse to repent and accept the gospel under those conditions then he would be accursed. Through the revelations given to the prophets we learn that during the reign of Jesus Christ for a thousand years, eventually all people will embrace the truth. Isaiah prophesied of the millennium as follows: [Isa 11:6-9 quoted]
“This chapter in Isaiah Moroni quoted to the Prophet Joseph Smith and said to him it was about to be fulfilled. If the knowledge of the Lord covers the earth as the waters do the sea, then it must be universally received. Moreover, the promise of the Lord through Jeremiah is that it will no longer be necessary for anyone to teach his neighbor, ‘. . . saying, Know the Lord: for they shall all know me, from the least of them unto the greatest of them, saith the Lord.’” (Answers to Gospel Questions, vol. 1, p. 111)
Joseph Fielding Smith
“Some members of the Church have an erroneous idea that when the millennium comes all of the people are going to be swept off the earth except righteous members of the Church. That is not so. There will be millions of people, Catholics, Protestants, agnostics, Mohammedans, people of all classes, and of all beliefs, still permitted to remain upon the face of the earth, but they will be those who have lived clean lives, those who have been free from wickedness and corruption. All who belong, by virtue of their good lives, to the terrestrial order, as well as those who have kept the celestial law, will remain upon the face of the earth during the millennium.
“Eventually, however, the knowledge of the Lord will cover the earth as the waters do the sea. But there will be need for the preaching of the gospel, after the millennium is brought in, until all men are either converted or pass away. In the course of the thousand years all men will either come into the Church, or kingdom of God, or they will die and pass away.” (Doctrines of Salvation, 1:86)
Isaiah 11:10 there shall be a root of Jesse, which shall stand for an ensign
The root of Jesse spoken of is interpreted in DC 113:6 as follows, ‘it is a descendant of Jesse, as well as of Joseph, unto whom rightly belongs the priesthood, and the keys of the kingdom, for an ensign, and for the gathering of my people in the last days.’ This individual must be Joseph Smith. He is also spoken of as the “rod” in verse 1.
“Quite obviously the ‘root of Jesse’ is a man, a descendant of Jesse and Joseph (as the Lord explains), who seems to have a great mission to perform in connection with gathering the remnant of Israel, as explained in Isaiah 11:11-16. I suggest that the ‘rod’ of verse 1 and the ‘root of Jesse’ of verse 10 refer to the same man, Joseph Smith. If the ‘rod’ in D&C 113:4 is the ‘servant in the hands of Christ, who is partly a descendant of Jesse as well as of Ephraim, or of the house of Joseph’, note that in verse 6 he seems to be more closely defined as a ‘descendant of Jesse, as well as of Joseph, unto whom rightly belongs the priesthood, and the keys of the kingdom, for an ensign, and for the gathering of my people in the last days.’ (Italics added.) Who better fits the description of the words in italics than Joseph Smith (see D&C 27:12-13; 86:8-11; 110:1-16; 115:18-19)? He rightly holds the priesthood and its keys by lineage, and surely no one disputes the fact that the keys of the ‘gathering of my people’ were conferred on him by Moses in the Kirtland Temple, April 3, 1836.” (“The problem of the ‘Rod’ and the ‘Root of Jesse’ in Isaiah 11,” Improvement Era, Oct. 1966, pp. 869, 914-15. as taken from the D&C Institute Manual, 1981, pp. 283-4)
A careful reading of Romans 15:12 reveals that Paul refers to this Isaiah passage as having reference to Christ not Joseph Smith. This is natural because many of the early Apostles thought that the term “last days” referred to the time period in which they were living. Dr. Sidney B. Sperry has suggested that Paul was not correct in using this scripture to refer to Christ.
“Examination of Romans 15:12 demonstrates that Paul was closely following the Septuagint LXX, Greek translation) text of Isaiah 11:10 rather than the Hebrew. As a matter of fact, the LXX version is only a paraphrase of the original Hebrew. We notice that the Greek version of Isaiah 11:1 translates the Hebrew text, ‘stem of Jesse,’ as the ‘root of Jesse’ and uses the same phrase in Isaiah 11:10. Of interest is the fact that the Greek word riza (root) is used in both verses to translate different Hebrew words. Paul would be quick to discern that the ‘root of Jesse’ of the LXX text of Isaiah 11:1-5 was the Christ. And when he observed that the phrase ‘root of Jesse’ was used again in verse 10, he would naturally assume that it, too, had reference to the Christ. Hence the reason for his quotation in Romans 15:12.’” (Book of Mormon Compendium, p. 227 as taken from Latter-day Commentary on the Book of Mormon compiled by K. Douglas Bassett, p. 144)
Isaiah 11:11 the Lord shall set his hand again the second time to recover the remnant of his people
Verses 11 and 12 speak of the gathering of Israel in the last days. The reference to “the second time” implies that there was a first time that the Lord set his hand to recover the people.
“From this scripture we learn that the events described were to be in the future: ‘The Lord shall set his hand again the second time to recover the remnant of his people.’ There could not be a ‘second time’ unless there had been a first. The first time was when the Lord led Israel out of Egyptian bondage and captivity.” (A Marvelous Work and a Wonder, pp. 202-3)
“The time has at last arrived when the God of Abraham, of Isaac, and of Jacob, has set His hand again the second time to recover the remnants of his people, which have been left from Assyria, and from Egypt, and from Pathros, and from Cush, and from Elam, and from Shinar, and from Hamath, and from the islands of the sea, and with them to bring in the fulness of the Gentiles, and establish that covenant with them, which was promised when their sins should be taken away. See Isaiah xi, Romans xi: 25, 26 and 27, and also Jeremiah xxxi: 31, 32 and 33. This covenant has never been established with the house of Israel, nor with the house of Judah, for it requires two parties to make a covenant, and those two parties must be agreed, or no covenant can be made.
“Christ, in the days of His flesh, proposed to make a covenant with them, but they rejected Him and His proposals, and in consequence thereof, they were broken off, and no covenant was made with them at that time…
“Thus after this chosen family had rejected Christ and His proposals, the heralds of salvation said to them, ‘Lo, we turn unto the Gentiles;’ and the Gentiles received the covenant, and were grafted in from whence the chosen family were broken off.” (History of the Church, vol. 1, p. 313)
“Isaiah's soul seemed to be on fire, and his mind wrapt in the visions of the Almighty, while he declared, in the name of the Lord, that it should come to pass in the last days that God should set His hand again the second time to recover the remnant of His people, assemble the outcasts of Israel, gather together the dispersed of Judah, destroy the tongue of the Egyptian sea and make men go over dry-shod, gather them to Jerusalem on horses, mules, swift beasts, and in chariots, and rebuild Jerusalem upon her own heaps; while, at the same time, the destroyer of the Gentiles will be on his way; and while God was turning the captivity of Israel, he would put all their curses and afflictions upon the heads of the Gentiles, their enemies, who had not sought to recover, but to destroy them, and had trodden them under foot from generation to generation.
“At the same time the standard should be lifted up, that the honest in heart, the meek of the earth among the Gentiles, should seek unto it; and that Zion should be redeemed and be built up a holy city, that the glory and power of God should rest upon her, and be seen upon her; that the watchman upon Mount Ephraim might cry—‘Arise ye, and let us go up unto Zion, the city of the Lord our God;’ that the Gentiles might come to her light, and kings to the brightness of her rising; that the Saints of God may have a place to flee to and stand in holy places while judgment works in the earth; that when the sword of God that is bathed in heaven falls upon Idumea, or the world,—when the Lord pleads with all flesh by sword and by fire, and the slain of the Lord are many, the Saints may escape these calamities by fleeing to the places of refuge, like Lot and Noah.” (History of the Church, vol. 6, p. 26)
Isaiah 11:12 he shall set up an ensign for the nations
Gordon B. Hinckley
“Rising above the Salt Lake Valley is a dome-shaped peak. Brigham Young saw it in a vision before the Saints left Nauvoo. He saw an ensign descend upon the hill and heard the voice of Joseph Smith say, ‘Build under that point … and you will prosper and have peace.’
“When Brigham Young first arrived in the valley, he immediately recognized the peak. On the morning of July 26, 1847, the men who would eventually comprise the new First Presidency, along with several members of the Twelve, climbed its slopes.
“This small group of priesthood leaders gazed out upon the valley below. ‘This is where we will plant the soles of our feet,’ President Young said, ‘and where the Lord will place his name amongst his people.’
“As I now stand at Ensign Peak and see the valley below, I marvel at the foresight of that little group. These prophets, dressed in old, travel-worn clothes, standing in boots they had worn for more than a thousand miles, spoke of a millennial vision. It was both bold and audacious. It was almost unbelievable.
“Here they were, almost a thousand miles from the nearest settlement to the east and almost eight hundred miles from the Pacific coast. They were in an untried climate. They had never raised a crop here. They had not built a structure of any kind.
“They were exiles, driven from their fair city on the Mississippi into this desert region of the West. But they were possessed of a vision drawn from the scriptures and words of revelation: ‘And he shall set up an ensign for the nations, and shall assemble the outcasts of Israel, and gather together the dispersed of Judah from the four corners of the earth’ (Isa. 11:12).” (“Faith in Every Footstep: The Epic Pioneer Journey,” Ensign, May 1997, 64)
Isaiah 11:13 Ephraim shall not envy Judah, and Judah shall not vex Ephraim
When the kingdom of Israel split from the kingdom of Judah, the two nations acted as allies (1 Kings 22). As time went on, they began to mistrust each other and actually began to fight against one another. This was abominable to the Lord because they were all brethren and should have been at peace with each other. For an example of the conflict between these two nations, see the commentary for 2 Ne 19. Isaiah is prophesying that all enmity between these two will be gone in the last days.
“We are from Ephraim. The Lord expects us, since we are the custodians of his gospel as restored in these latter days, according to my understanding, to extend the hand of friendship to Judah, because after all we are all descendants of the prophets Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob, and we come under the promises that through their descendants should all the nations of the earth be blessed.
“I do not know how the enmity and the envy between Ephraim and Judah can disappear except that we of the house of Ephraim, who have the custody of the gospel, should lead out in trying to bring to this branch of the house of Israel the blessings of the restored gospel…
“And it seems to me that the only way that the tribe of Judah can be sanctified to dwell in his presence forever and ever will be when we bring to them the gospel of the Lord Jesus Christ as the Savior promised them it would be brought in the latter days.” (Conference Report, Oct. 1956, pp. 23-24 as taken from the 1981 Old Testament Institute Manual, p. 150)
Isaiah 11:14 they shall fly upon the shoulders of the Philistines
West of the land of Israel was the land of the Philistines. The Philistines were famous for their shipping trade throughout the Mediterranean. They were such prolific shippers that Isaiah uses them as a symbol for travel. He explains that those who are gathered to Israel in the last days will ‘fly upon the shoulders of the Philistines.’
Orson F. Whitney
“’they shall fly upon the shoulders of the Philistines toward the West.’ We recognize the fulfillment of that prophecy in the founding of this Church by Joseph Smith, a lineal descendant of Abraham, Isaac and Jacob, who thus lifted the Ensign for the gathering of their descendants from their long dispersion among the nations. But a part of the fulfillment rests with the Gentiles. Their steamships, their railroads, their means of rapid transit and communication—these are ‘the shoulders of the Philistines,’ upon which the children of Ephraim have been and are being brought to the West, to the land of Zion, where the New Jerusalem is to rise, where the pure in heart will assemble, and the necessary preparation be made for the coming of the Lord in his glory. God works outside as well as inside his Church, and uses big things and little things for the accomplishment of his purposes.” (Conference Report, Oct. 1919, p. 69)
Isaiah 11:14 Edom, Moab, and the children of Ammon
These three peoples, the Edomites, Moabites, and Ammonites, represent the greatest enemies of the children of Israel. Therefore, the Lord is promising them great military victory. In the last days, the children of Israel will be given power over their worst enemies.
Isaiah 11:15 the Lord shall destroy the tongue of the Egyptian sea
“The word tongue should be translated ‘gulf.’ This phrase recalls the occasion when Moses and the Israelites crossed the Red Sea on dry ground (Ex. 14:21-22), an event that anticipates the gathering in the last days, when no powerful nation, mortal tyrant, or army will stop the promised events of the gathering of the saints around God’s standard.” (Donald W. Parry, Jay A. Parry, and Tina Peterson, Understanding Isaiah, 124 as taken from Commentaries on Isaiah in the Book of Mormon, ed. by K. Douglas Bassett, [American Fork, UT: Covenant Publishing Co., 2003], 188)
“As the Lord smote the tongue of the Egyptian sea in ancient days, and caused his people to go through on a highway in the midst of those mighty waters which stood like walls on each side of the assembly of Israel. So in the latter days he will not only cut off the tongue of the Egyptian sea, but the river in its seven streams will also be divided and men will go through dryshod, This is the testimony of the prophets concerning the events that are to take place when the times of the Gentiles are fulfilled.” (Journal of Discourses, 14:66 as taken from Commentaries on Isaiah in the Book of Mormon, ed. by K. Douglas Bassett, [American Fork, UT: Covenant Publishing Co., 2003], 190)
Isaiah 11:17 there shall be a highway for the remnant of his people which shall be left from Assyria
This highway is spoken of in DC 133:
‘they who are in the north countries (the ten tribes) shall come in remembrance before the Lord; and their prophets shall hear his voice, and shall no longer stay themselves; and they shall smite the rocks, and the ice shall flow down at their presence.
And an highway shall be cast up in the midst of the great deep.
Their enemies shall become a prey unto them,
And in the barren deserts there shall come forth pools of living water; and the parched ground shall no longer be a thirsty land.
And they shall bring forth their rich treasures unto the children of Ephraim, my servants.
And the boundaries of the everlasting hills shall tremble at their presence.
And there shall they fall down and be crowned with glory, even in Zion, by the hands of the servants of the Lord, even the children of Ephraim.’ (DC 133:26-32)
The student might conclude that these two highways are different because Isaiah speaks of the remnant returning from Assyria whereas we know that the DC passage refers to a highway which leads to Zion, or the New Jerusalem. Is that possible—a highway all the way from Assyria to North America? That seems too far—even if the continents have rejoined. Consider, for a moment, that they are the same highway. Perhaps, Isaiah is not saying that the highway will come all the way from Assyria, but is referring to the passage back from Assyrian captivity. If we paraphrase Isaiah, “There shall be a highway for the remnant of his people to return from the Assyrian captivity just like when the children of Israel came up out of the land of Egypt.” This is in perfect harmony with verse 11 wherein the Lord leads his people from bondage on two occasions: first from Egypt, second from Assyria (or more precisely, from the scattering which occurred at the hands of the Assyrians).